Drowning prevention in boating 2020

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Robyn Mines-Lentz, Jazmin Russell and Jacinda Sully, PSP (Personnel Support Programs) Lifeguard/Instructors

Hello everyone! In the spirit of National Drowning Prevention Week 2020, here are some helpful drowning prevention safety tips and information for your next boating trip from some of your friendly local lifeguards from Col J.J. Parr Sports Centre. Stay safe this summer!

Before You Head Out to the Lake

• The operator and all passengers should be well prepared. Work together and share the duties necessary to prepare.

• Have a float plan in place. It should contain:
– Boat name and number
– Boat size, type (sail, power, canoe, other), and color
– Your name, address, and phone number
– Number of people in your party
– Route description
– Launch point and date/time
– Arrival point and date/time
– Where to call search and rescue
– An emergency contact (their name, address, and phone number).

• Check the forecast before you go out. Return to shore immediately if bad weather approaches.

• Always tell someone where you are going, when you will return and who to call if you are overdue.

• Be prepared. Ensure your vessel has the required safety gear on board, and sufficient fuel.

• Impaired boating is illegal. Leave the alcohol onshore.

Boating Safety Equipment Requirements

Along with your Pleasure Craft Operator Card, you are required by law to carry safety equipment. In Canada, the safety equipment required on board depends on the type and length of your boat. This equipment may include:

• A Canadian approved PFD (Personal Floatation Device)/life jacket for each person on the boat. If there are going to be three people on the water craft, then you MUST have three PFDs/life jackets. Remember that the best protection you can give yourself on the water is to always wear your PFD/lifejacket.

– Always make sure all PFDs/Life jackets are in good working condition and fit each passenger appropriately before every trip. Check for rips, tears, any kind of breakage, and that all straps are present and unbroken.

– If the above problems are found, don’t go on the trip until the old, compromised PFD/lifejacket can be replaced and is torn apart and destroyed to prevent others from using it (so as to avoid the cost of another life due to drowning because of faulty equipment).

– Attach a whistle or other sound device on each PFD/lifejacket

• A buoyant heaving line at least 15 m in length (to tow in anyone who may fall overboard)

• A watertight flashlight and Canadian approved flares – Type A, B, C, or D

• A sound-signaling device

• A magnetic compass

• Manual propelling devices (i.e. paddles) OR an anchor with at least 15 m of rope, chain or cable

• A bailer OR manual bilge pump (to help keep you afloat in the event of leakage)

• Class 5 B/C fire extinguisher

In addition to the safety equipment listed above, we highly recommend that you carry the following items – enough for everyone on board:

• First Aid Kit
• Spare Clothing in a water tight bag
• Sun-screen
• Hat
• Sunglasses
• Drinking Water
• Snacks
• Waterproof matches
• Toolkit and Spare Parts

Alcohol, Drugs, and Drowning Awareness

Every year, hundreds of people die as a result of unsafe boating-related activities. Don’t drink and drive your boat – it impairs judgment and you could lose your licence. There is no safe way to mix alcohol and drugs with water recreation. Provide non-alcoholic beverages for boat operators and passengers. Wait until you are off the water before consuming alcohol. Boat Smart… Boat Sober!

• Over 400 Canadians die in preventable water-related incidents annually. Even one drowning is one too many.

• Approximately 26% of drownings each year occur during boating activities.

• 20% of people drowned unexpectedly and 2/3 occur in open water.

• Alcohol consumption is a factor in almost 40% of boating-related fatalities. Both alcohol and cannabis use impairs judgment, reflexes and balance.

• Life jackets don’t work if you don’t wear them. Not wearing a lifejacket was a factor in 74% of boating deaths.

• Most drownings occur within 15 metres of shore – wearing a lifejacket alone can save your life.

• Don’t boat alone. Boating alone was a major risk factor in 21% of boating-related fatalities.

• The highest water-related fatality rates in 2011-2015 included Baby Boomers 50-64 years of age and young adults 20-34 years of age.
Weather Conditions

• Plan ahead so that you are aware of the weather and water conditions.

• Visit The Weather Network for information on weather in your area.

For more information, visit the Lifesaving Society’s websites. www.lifesaving.ca, Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch: www.lifesaving.org or National Branch: www.lifesavingsociety.com.

Sources: www.lifesaving.org, www.lifesavingsociety.com, https://www2.tc.gc.ca/media/documents/marinesafety/tp-511e.pdf.

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